The region of East Africa includes the countries of Burundi, the Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda.
The journalistic hot spot in the area has been Somalia, a largely lawless country with a weak governing structure. Somalian pirates and outlaws have preyed on ships in the Indian Ocean and tourists in neighboring Kenya, and the country is seen as a potential haven for terrorism. Journalists in Somalia face an unquestionably risky environment. The Overseas Press Club protested the killing of five Somali journalists in 2009. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, one journalist was killed and another wounded in crossfire by African Union peacekeepers in 2011, and other incidents of repression and violence against journalists were reported.
Somalia has the second-worst record in the world, behind Iraq, of allowing attacks against journalists to go unpunished, according to CPJ.
In most of the rest of the region, journalism and journalists are subject to the whims of local leaders, and suppression of the press is common.
Ethiopia has criminalized the coverage of rebels and opposition groups under anti-terrorism laws. Government pressure in 2011 led to the closing of one media outlet, the Awramba Times, and several journalists left the country. In fact, Ethiopia has driven more journalists into exile – 79 – than any other country during the past 10 years, according to CPJ. Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, were sentenced in December 2011 to 11 years in prison on charges of supporting terrorism after the two illegally entered the country with an ethnic Somali rebel group.
Its neighbor, Eritrea, has no independent press and a 2001 government crackdown on journalists led to the imprisonment of 11. The government has refused to reveal the conditions or locations of some of those imprisoned. CPJ ranks Eritrea as the sixth most censored nation in the world.
In Uganda, government attacks on journalists were widespread during elections in February 2011 and later the same year.
And in Kenya, questions have been raised about the 2009 murder of Francis Nyaruri, a reporter who wrote reports stories critical of local police. The Overseas Press Club called for swift action in the case.
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